Small firms ‘locked out’ of competition for big contracts

FAIR GO: Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt talks is calling for fair rules for small businesses pictured with Bundaberg Sandblasting owner Wayne Edwards (file photo).
FAIR GO: Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt talks is calling for fair rules for small businesses pictured with Bundaberg Sandblasting owner Wayne Edwards (file photo). Max Fleet

REGIONAL construction firms could be locked out of bidding for Federal Government contracts worth more than $4 million because of safety accreditation rules.

The rules for federal projects show that firms must be accredited with the Federal Safety Commissioner to bid for projects worth $4 million or more.

That rule also applies for projects worth $6 million or more where at least half the total value was from Canberra.

But Hinkler MP Keith Pitt said those rules were locking out smaller and medium-sized building firms from tendering directly.

He said many small firms simply could not afford the time and cost of getting accreditation.

"Anecdotally, I understand there are at least two or three builders in my electorate who can't afford it," he said.

"I believe it can cost several hundreds of thousands of dollars to get accredited and up to $120,000 to keep up to standard."

Mr Pitt said while he understood the need to meet safety standards, often state regulators were doing the same job as the Federal Safety Commissioner.

He said he wanted the issue looked at in the Turnbull Government's federation white paper - despite it not being specifically examined to date.

"Basically this could be something done entirely by each state, but according to national rules," he said.

"It doesn't make sense to make people jump through two sets of hoops and I'm concerned the current system means the big firms are getting the jobs."

The federation white paper is looking at issues including "overlap" between state and federal governments, but not specifically at this issue.

It is due to be released by the end of the year.

Topics:  building construction federal government tender

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